Grant was born with a developmental or learning disability.
At some point Grant became a bit of a handful so he was admitted to Riverview Insane Asylum on November 3, 1952, and then moved to Woodlands in New Westminster on November 7, 1952. He was 12 at the time he was sent to Woodlands. (Source: admission dates provided by Riverview / Woodlands to Sherri Gillanders)
While at Woodlands, Grant was medicated with a variety of different medications and this led to liver damage later in his life. By all accounts, Woodlands was an awful place for anyone to live. The facility is remembered for the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that residents suffered.
Grant was released from Woodlands and moved to the Downtown East Side of Vancouver. This was a bit of a rough area but it was a financial fit for Grant given his limited means.
John Gillanders regularly took Grant on vacation to Fraser Lake, which Grant enjoyed. John and Ross Gillanders visited Grant and played bridge and crib with Grant and his many friends. Apparently Grant was a talented card player!
Joan Gillanders had Grant over for dinner many times, and made sure he always had clean clothes and was taking care of himself. John and Joy had him over for dinner lots of times too.
In early 1996, Grant went to the hospital for surgery on his liver. Grant was quite overweight and that may have been a factor in the stitches coming loose. Grant appears to have bled out from his released stitches and died at home.
After Grant passed away, it was up to John Gillanders to prepare a memorial service. All his brothers and sisters came to the memorial as well as a few of his nieces and nephews. The following statement was given by his brother John Gillanders at his memorial:
"Thank you for coming. By the family being together, the sorrow of losing Grant is much easier to bear.
We are here to say goodbye to Grant Winston Gillanders, a loving son, brother, uncle and friend. Your presence here is a sign of respect and acceptance for him. Respect and acceptance is something that Grant, in his own way, worked towards his entire life. The legacy Grant left is a true unadulterated love of the entire family.
Grant would not have wanted any of us to be sad at his passing, He always wanted the very best for those he loved so much....his family. Grant was extremely proud of his family. When I would visit with him down town he would stop all his many friends on the street and introduce them to me. Grant was exceedingly kind and would be the first to give you a hug and comfort if you were in anguish. Even in his unenviable position Grant was always upbeat about life and any undertakings.
I recall the summer vacations Grant was able to spend with my family and I at Dad's cabin at the lake. Grant, my children and I would build a raft out of the drift wood we found on the beach. It would take us a day or two but we all had a lot of fun and we promptly named our raft the good ship “HELP”. Once built, the raft usually floated and Grant, my children and I, took pleasure in pushing each other from the raft into the water. It was my good fortune to be a lot closer to Grant since he returned from Alberta a couple of years ago. I would visit with him often and on a couple of occasions even got him to ride on my motorcycle.
He always wanted the best for those he loved so much. Grant's life was not an easy one. He was mentally challenged and it was a struggle for him to survive his entire life. The caring and help of all of you here made his struggle just a little easier to bear. Now his struggle is over and he is finally at peace. As Grant would often say to me; we now say to him, “God bless you Grant”.
Rest in peace. Love ...from your family
John Gillanders has Grant's ashes with a plan to scatter his ashes at Stanley Park, which was a place that Grant particularly enjoyed.
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